This article looks at some of the current issues in men’s diet and lifestyle – we know for example that on average in the UK men are eating too much salt and saturated fat, drinking too much alcohol and not getting enough physical activity. Also, did you know that diet can affect male fertility - eating a healthy, balanced diet and reducing alcohol intake can improve sperm quality and increase the chances of you and your partner conceiving.
Top tips for men’s health
1. Maintain a healthy weight – being overweight or obese is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and mental health problems. It can also decrease fertility.
2. Eat more fibre – base your meals on high-fibre and wholegrain foods like wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholewheat pasta, wholemeal bread, brown rice and include pulses (e.g. lentils and beans), unsalted nuts and seeds in your diet.
3. Keep track of your red and processed meat intake – if you on average eat more than 90 grams (cooked weight) of red and processed meat a day (that’s around 600 g a week) cut down to 70 grams a day (that’s less than 500 g a week).
4. Cut down on saturated fat – reduce your intake of biscuits, cakes, pies, pastries, chocolate and cream, choose unsaturated oils such as rapeseed, olive and sunflower oils and spreads made from them for cooking, salad dressings and spreading and choose low-fat dairy foods.
5. Eat more fish – try to eat at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily (e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, fresh tuna).
6. Eat more fruit and veg – try to eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Fresh, canned, frozen, dried and 150 ml of unsweetened juice all count.
7. Watch your salt intake – aim for less than 6 g a day. Check the nutrition label on foods, choose reduced salt versions of foods, and don’t add salt in cooking or at the table.
8. Keep active – aim for at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate activity – that’s the type of activity where you raise your heart beat plus muscle strengthening exercises e.g. sit ups/press ups two days per week.
9. Limit alcohol intake – If you drink alcohol, try to drink no more than 14 units a week, with several alcohol-free days each week.
10. Seek help if you need it – if you are worried about any aspect of your health don’t keep quiet, speak to your GP.